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Post Game Advice for Coaches

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There's a game coming up and it doesn't really matter who it's against. You pull out whatever game videos you have and watch them for the fourth or fifth time. You come up with a list of things your team needs to work on in order to be fully prepared and also make a list of your opponent's tendencies that you need to either stop or defend.

The information you gather from the video is put into a written scouting report that is distributed to each of your players. For the next couple days you put your game plan into action during practice while making whatever minor tweaks and major changes necessary to give you and your team the best chance of winning the game. Game time finally gets here and hopefully everything goes according to plan. But then what? What happens after the game? Do you dwell on it or just forget it and move on to the next game?

Here are 4 things you can do to use the game you just played as a teaching tool:

1. Post Game Meeting

I think most coaches meet with their team right after the game is over. I stopped doing that many years ago. Why? Because players and coaches alike are usually pretty emotional immediately after the game ends and those emotions are almost always detrimental to team meetings. Everyone is either on cloud nine following a big win and so most mistakes and deficiencies are quickly glossed over, (We won the game so we must've done everything right.) or everyone is disappointed and upset and mistakes are magnified. Regardless of whether or not the coach is wonderfully positive or brutally negative, meetings right after the game always take way too long and so the players don't listen! And if the players aren't listening the meeting is useless! Instead, we meet briefly right before our next practice. By then most of the emotions have dissipated and we can get back to business. We talk about facts only and then meeting right before we step onto the court lets the players immediately act upon any criticisms, compliments, and suggestions.

2. Review the Stat Sheet

Depending on your coaching style and areas of emphasis certain stats are going to mean more to you than others. The stats that I am most concerned with are FG%, turnovers, offensive rebounds, and points per possession. I also look to see if our best shooters got the most shots and if we limited the shots for their best shooters. These numbers give me a pretty accurate idea of how we played regardless of what the final score indicates. Once I know the numbers I look to determine "Why" they are what they are and I share that information with the team.

3. Game Tape

When I watch a video of that night's game I find several short clips to show the players for teaching purposes. These clips usually feature positioning, execution, or effort - both good and bad! I've found that if I show the entire game the players don't pay attention when the action doesn't directly involve them. (I know where they get it from - I always get a kick out of watching parents in the stands who film the game when their kid is in but then put the camera down as soon as he or she is on the bench.) I always include at least one clip of the players on the bench so everyone can see who is paying attention, who is cheering, and who is not! And if the camera catches a bench player not completely and actively engaged in the game he better have a good explanation for the rest of us.

4. Written Report

I think many coaches have come to rely too heavily on video tape and neglect to utilize their own immediate observations. As soon as possible after the game is over a coach should make a complete and thorough written review of everything that worked, everything that didn't, and any possible suggestions for next time. This should be done not only by the head coach but by each assistant coach as well and all the reports should be filed away and kept for review. I have large, separate binders for each team in our conference and frequent opponents and another binder for all "others." These reports are invaluable when it comes to game preparation.

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